International oceanic affairs since the mid-1960s have experienced a distinct, evolutionary change of major importance. Politically, militarily, and—most important—economically, the nations of the world have exhibited intensified interest in national rights and international obligations relating to the earth’s oceans, their seabeds, and their resources. Wide-ranging oceanic issues have become the subject of United Nations debate, far-reaching U. N. General Assembly resolutions concerning man’s use of the sea have been adopted, and the world community has generally set about reorganizing itself better to deal with its vast, invaluable ocean environment.
The factors bearing on this growing interest are of importance to all professional users of the sea. The naval officer, in particular, should be continually aware of changes in international politics that in some way affect his primary area of operations. It was, therefore, most appropriate that last year’s second honorable mention prize essay in the PROCEEDINGS, “The Paper Torpedo,” treated the growing attention being devoted to the oceans by the United Nations; unfortunately, however, it did so in so parochial a manner as to cloud the significance of this political activity.
As the world’s pre-eminent sea power, the United States has played a leading role in international oceanic activities during the recent years, a logical role because of the firm U. S. commitment not only to a growing national ocean program, but also to the promotion of peaceful, international co-operative endeavor.
As formulated over the past four to five years, U. S. oceanic policy has been influenced by several significant internal and external factors. To deal effectively with international events, the United States has had to develop a governmental policy mechanism meshing many national oceanic interests which earlier had been pursued with minimal co-ordination. The United States, at the same time, has had to clarify its evolving oceanic objectives before attempting to influence the direction of international activity. Since 1966, no single set of factors has had greater influence on the course of oceanic policy than the political, economic, military, and technological factors bearing on rights to and use of the deep seabeds, their subsoil, and their resources. The following exploration into the development, effects, and reactions of U. S. oceanic policy from 1965-69 hopefully will provide a better vantage point from which to track the course of the paper torpedo—a vantage point providing a more realistic, and therefore useful, perspective on recent seabed arms developments.
Until the mid-1960s there had not seemed to be an overriding requirement for close policy co-ordination of the international activities of the nation’s long-established ocean users—the merchant marine, Navy, Coast Guard, fishing industry, and scientific research community—or of the young, offshore oil and gas industry. Each had its own requirements, objectives, channels of communications and ground rules; each had its specialized international forums. Generally, the philosophy prevailed that the oceans were vast enough to accommodate the users, whoever they were, whatever the uses. As a result, U. S. foreign policy relating to oceanic activity was usually formulated as required at functional levels. Fisheries and scientific research beat examination in this regard.
Foreign policy matters relating to fisheries were dealt with by a highly specialized office in the Department of State. In 1948, the Office of Special Assistant to the Secretary for Fisheries and Wildlife was established specifically to deal with international problems involving U. S. fisheries and conflicts concerning conservation and jurisdiction over high seas fisheries.
With regard to international oceanographic research policy and planning, President Kennedy noted on 29 March 1961: “This year an Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is being established under UNESCO to provide a means whereby interested countries can co-operate in research and in making surveys and maps of the deep sea floor, the ocean waters, and their contained organisms. Membership in the Commission is open to all countries of the U. N. family that desire to co-operate in oceanography. The United States intends to participate fully in the activities of the Commission.”
Following U. S. participation in the Commission’s first session in the fall of 1961, it became evident that U. S. dealings with the intergovernmental body would have to be co-ordinated within the government. The Interagency Committee on Oceanography of the Federal Council on Science and Technology established a Panel on International Programs (PIPICO), in January 1962, to support U. S. participation in the scientific research activities of the IOC. The Panel, with representatives from seven government agencies and the National Academy of Sciences, became the “clearing house” through which the Department of State processed work in preparation for the meetings of the Commission Additionally, the Panel became “a source of timely advice to the Department of State in programs and policies in oceanography which bear on national objectives at the international level.”
As recently as May 1965, on the other hand, the Department of State was seemingly not of the opinion that marine mineral resources routinely required a standing organizational mechanism for foreign policy consideration. Replying to a letter from the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries who had requested the views of the Department of State on a bill providing for study of the legal problems of management, use, and control of the natural resources of the oceans and ocean beds, the Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations wrote: “While the Department is unaware of the need for any such legal study from the standpoint of international law or our relations with foreign countries, it sees no objection thereto if such a study is considered necessary from a domestic law standpoint.”
In December 1965, however, Ambassador James Roosevelt, serving with the U. S. Mission to the United Nations, sensed the growing international interest in exploration and exploitation of underseas resources. He recommended that, at the 40th Session of the U. N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Secretary General be requested to undertake a preliminary study of the U. N.’s role with regard to underseas resources. The seed that was to produce the subsequent phenomenal growth of international oceanic interest and debate was sown. On 7 March 1966, ECOSOC adopted Resolution 1112(XL) which requested the Secretary General:
(a) To make a survey of the present state of knowledge of these resources of the sea, beyond the continental shelf and of the techniques for exploiting these resources . . .;
(b) As a part of that survey, to attempt to identify those resources now considered to be capable of economic exploitation, especially for the benefit of developing countries;
(c) To identify any gaps in available knowledge which merit early attention by virtue of their importance to the development of ocean resources, and of the practicality of their early exploitation.”
With the international community thus launched, the United States turned to the construction of its own long-range, co-ordinated ocean program. In May 1965, the Panel on Oceanography of the President’s Scientific Advisory Committee had been established, and in June 1966, the White House released the Panel’s report, “Effective Use of the Sea,” which recommended national oceanic goals and programs. The report, placed considerable emphasis on the importance to national security of a strong naval ocean program. On 17 June 1966, the Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act was enacted establishing a National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development and a Commission on Marine Science, Engineering, and Resources. From the foreign policy viewpoint, the Act stated that U. S. marine science activities should be conducted so as to contribute to “The co-operation by the United States with other nations and groups of nations and international organizations in marine science activities when such co-operation is in the national interest.” And, the Act stated that: “The Council [a Cabinet-level body including the Secretary of State and chaired by the Vice President], under the foreign policy guidance of the President and as he may request, shall co-ordinate a program of international co-operation in work done pursuant to this act, pursuant to agreements made by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.” This foreign policy mandate was by its very nature to levy the requirement for close co-ordination of international oceanic activities between the Council and the Department of State, with the latter, of course, retaining ultimate responsibility to the President for the nation’s foreign affairs.
The creating of the National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development was swiftly followed by a Presidential statement that was to become the foundation stone of subsequent U. S. oceanic policy. At the commissioning of the research ship Oceanographer on 13 July 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson said: “Under no circumstances, we believe, must we ever allow the prospects of rich harvest and mineral wealth to create a new form of colonial competition among the maritime nations. We must be careful to avoid a race to grab and to hold the lands under the high seas. We must ensure that the deep seas and the ocean bottoms are, and remain, the legacy of all human beings.”
The importance of this declaration, issued by the leader of the nation potentially in the lead position in any race to grab, hold, and harvest the ocean floors, could not be mistaken. One of the most significant aspects of the declaration was its timing. Issued as it was before any nation was in fact technologically capable of realizing substantial wealth from the deep ocean seabeds and their subsoil, it suggested to the world community that there was still time to develop an internationally more positive course of action. Moreover, it implied through its use of such terms as “colonial competition” that, ideally, the world would be best served if the lands under the high seas were not to become involved in any extension of arms competition.
With the convening of the 21st Session of the U. N. General Assembly that fall, the U. S. Delegation initiated proposals which eventually led to the adoption of Resolution 2172 on Resources of the Sea. The resolution marked an appropriate finale to the international oceanic events of 1966. In it, the General Assembly endorsed ECOSOC Resolution 1112; requested “the Secretary General to undertake an additional survey of global activities in marine science and technology;” and requested the Secretary General in co-operation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and, in particular, its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and in particular, its Committee on Fisheries to formulate proposals for:
“(a) Ensuring the most effective arrangements for an expanded program of international co-operation to assist in a better understanding of the marine environment through science and in the exploitation and development of marine resources, with due regard to the conservation of fish stocks; . . .”
The resolution also requested that the Secretary General submit his findings to the 23rd Session of the General Assembly two years thence. With these research and survey requests made and with all U. N. member nations, rich and poor, thus alerted to the fact that there might be resources beneath the sea worthy of their most earnest attention, the stage was set for the events of the next two years.
The momentum of international activity, the scope of U. S. oceanic interests, and the growing importance of the related issues led the Executive Branch of the U. S. government to decide that further improvements to its oceanic policy machinery were in order. In early 1967, the Secretary of State, acting at the request of the Vice President, established an Ad Hoc Interagency Committee on International Policy in the Marine Sciences. Less than a year later, with its worth established, the Committee shed its Ad Hoc status to become the Committee on International Policy in the Marine Environment (CIPME).
Chaired by the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs with organizational membership—at the Assistant Secretary level—consisting of the Departments of Defense (represented by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research and Development), Commerce, Interior, and Transportation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development, the Committee now provided the Executive Branch with a more efficient means of arriving at high-level foreign policy decisions on oceanic matters.
It became the Committee’s responsibility to develop principles and criteria which should govern U. S. foreign policy pertaining to the marine environment, and to develop, consider, and recommend policies and courses of action regarding U. S. international activities and initiatives pertaining to the marine environment. The international programs panel, PIPICO, now came under the aegis of CIPME, and the Committee established such additional organizational substructure as was required for its work. Major policy issues were not long in coming.
On 17 August 1967, the Permanent Mission of Main to the United Nations asked the U. N. Secretary General to include in the agenda of the General Assembly an item dealing with a “Declaration and treaty concerning the reservation exclusively for peaceful purpose of the seabed and of the ocean floor, underlying the seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, and the use of their resources in the interests of mankind.” A memorandum accompanying the request generally referred to as the Malta Resolution, called for the drafting of a treaty which would embody the following principles:
(a) The seabed and the ocean floor, underlying the seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, are not subject to national appropriation in any manner whatsoever;
(b) The exploration of the seabed and of the ocean floor, underlying the seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, shall be undertaken in a manner consistent with the Principles and Purposes of the Charter of the United Nations;
(c) The use of the seabed and of the ocean floor, underlying the seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, and their economic exploitation shall be undertaken with the aim of safeguarding the interests of mankind. The net financial benefits derived from the use and exploitation of the seabed and of the ocean floor shall be used primarily to promote the development of poor countries;
(d) The seabed and the ocean floor, underlying the seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, shall be reserved exclusively for peaceful purposes in perpetuity.
The Maltese Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Arvid Pardo, explained that his government had taken this action because the world’s seabeds were now technologically exploitable and susceptible to national appropriation with incalculable international consequences. That such a view should have been advanced was not surprising in light of the interest in marine resources that had been generated during the previous session of the General Assembly. In terms of international politics and the related thesis of “The Paper Torpedo,” it should be emphasized that the primary focus of the Malta Resolution was, from the beginning, on seabed resources, not the banning of seabed arms.
The Maltese assessment of the world’s marine technological capabilities did not coincide with that of the United States. Moreover, in the opinion of the United States it was premature for the international community to consider such far-reaching, definitive international arrangements concerning deep seabed jurisdiction.
Extensive international co-operative ocean research and exploration to provide a better global understanding of the nature of the marine environment and its resources would be required before any such treaty drafting could realistically be considered. The nations of the world would have to know what was there before they could attempt to agree on rules for exploitation.
Such knowledge would be required if international agreement were to be reached on the precise extent of national jurisdiction over seabed resources, a matter that had been ambiguously defined by the Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf. This agreement would in turn be required if international agreement were to be sought on the nature of the seabed regime beyond national jurisdiction.
Many members of the Congress expressed concern and urged caution with regard to the Malta Resolution. Following a series of hearings in September and October 1967, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements, for example, noted “that it would be precipitate, unwise, and possibly injurious to the objectives which both the United States and the United Nations have in common to reach a decision at this time” on the issues raised by the Resolution, and, it recommended “That the U. S. Government, while continuing to encourage and support constructive international co-operation in the exploration of the oceans, proceed in this field with the greatest caution so as not to limit or prejudice our national interests in the exploration, use and economic exploitation of ocean resources. The United States should urge further study of all the issues and problems relating to this entire subject.”
Ensuing U. N. debate led, on 18 December 1967, to the adoption of Resolution 2340 (XXII), which established an Ad Hoc Committee of 35 nations to study the peaceful uses of the seabed and ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. The Committee was asked to prepare a study for consideration by the General Assembly the following year; a study which would offer “an indication regarding practical means to promote international cooperation in the exploration, conservation and use of the seabed and the ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof, as contemplated in the title of the item, and of their resources . . . .” The Ad Hoc Committee, which was to meet three times in 1968, established two working groups: one for economic and technical facets of the subject, the other for legal issues.
Thus, with the coming of 1968, national and international interest in major ocean issues was still rapidly on the increase. In March, Senator Claiborne Pell (Dem., R. I.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took the unusual step of presenting a Draft Ocean Space Treaty to the Senate, expressing the hope that the draft might “serve not only this country but also all mankind as a first step toward peaceful and useful administration of the great world ocean.” U. S. oceanic policy in the Executive Branch of the Government was focused on three primary international issues: co-operative marine research and exploration; reservation of the seabeds for peaceful purposes; and fundamental guidelines regarding the international community’s use of the sea and seabeds.
On 20 February 1968, the United States submitted its reply to a two-part questionnaire received from the U. N. Secretary General, pursuant to U. N. Resolution 2172, requesting the views of member nations on international marine science activities requiring increased effort, and their views on the adequacy of organizational co-ordination of such activities. In replying to the first question, the United States indicated marine science research, educational, and engineering activities which should receive increased co-operative effort and noted that, “The President of the United States, in his State of the Union message on 17 January 1968, [had] expressed the intent of the United States to ‘launch with other nations an exploration of the ocean depths to tap its wealth and its energy and its abundance’.” With regard to organizational arrangements, the United States suggested that both short-term and long-term improvements were in order, and that a useful starting point would be the strengthening of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission as a focal point for marine science activities.
U. S. policy with regard to improved and expanded international, co-operative research was further enunciated some three weeks later when, in a message to the Congress, President Johnson said that he had, “instructed the Secretary of State to consult with other nations on the steps that could be taken to launch an historic and unprecedented adventure—an International Decade of Ocean Exploration for the 1970s.”
On 8 May 1968, the National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development issued a White Paper elucidating the concept of an International Decade of Ocean Exploration (IDOE): envisioned as a carefully planned, sustained, global collaborative endeavor encompassing exploration of the oceans’ living and non-living resources, exploration of the ocean floor, exploration of ocean processes, and technical assistance to developing nations. The United States entered into bilateral discussions with more than 50 nations; the majority reaction was favorable; and by the time of the 23rd Session of the U. N. General Assembly, the IDOE concept had received varied endorsements from the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries; the IOC Bureau and Consultative Council; ECOSOC; the World Meteorological Organization’s Commission on Maritime Meteorology and the Ad Hoc Seabed Committee. Significantly, the studies and deliberations of the Ad Hoc Committee’s Economic and Technical Working Group had placed in far better perspective the limited state of man’s knowledge about the ocean’s resources and their distribution—and the nascent state of man’s ability to recover them.
In dealing with the second, major oceanic policy issue during this period, that of reserving the seabed and ocean floor exclusively for peaceful purposes as called for in the Malta Resolution, the United States was placed in the position of having to caution against premature action on the part of the international community. No one could doubt the appeal of this segment of Malta’s proposed treaty, and it had strong advocates. At the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee, for example, the Soviet representative placed his nation on record as follows: “Dedicated to its policy of peace and disarmament the Soviet Union suggests that the Committee recommend the General Assembly to favour in principle the prohibition of the use for military purposes of the seabed and the ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.”
While the United States could agree that it would be highly desirable to prevent the use of the seabed and ocean floor for the emplacement of weapons of mass destruction, it held that several nations already had the capability to use the sea beds for military purposes, and “that any international effort to limit military uses of the continental shelves and deep ocean floors must be subject to truly effective controls and measures for verification . . .” With this the case, the United States was of the opinion that it would be best for the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC) in Geneva to study the problem, identifying and exploring the complex issues involved, so that the necessary information and analyses would be available for any subsequent negotiation of an effective, verifiable international agreement. Further, at the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee, the United States set forth the view that peaceful purposes did not preclude military activities “in pursuit of peaceful aims or in fulfillment of peaceful intents, consistent with the United Nations Charter and the obligations of international law,” and this view was included in the Ad Hoc Committee’s report to the U. N. General Assembly. At no time during this entire process, however, did the United Nations ever seriously “attempt to anchor the world’s navies permanently,” as suggested in “The Paper Torpedo.” First, the issue was far more limited; second, the Ad Hoc Committee had agreed that it would take decisions on the basis of consensus; and it seemed apparent from the beginning that the Committee would not be able to reach unanimity on the seabed arms issue.
The third major thrust of U. S. oceanic policy was in the direction of developing meaningful, workable principles to guide the international community in its expanding activities in the marine environment. If the deep seas and ocean bottoms were to remain the legacy of all human beings, the sovereign nations of the world would have to agree on co-operative, productive arrangements for their common use. At the second meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee, the United States tabled a draft resolution containing a statement of principles which, if adopted, would provide that:
► no state may claim or exercise sovereignty or sovereign rights over any part of the deep ocean floor;
► as soon as practicable, internationally agreed arrangements governing exploitation of deep ocean floor resources shall be established;
► as soon as practicable, an internationally agreed precise boundary for the deep ocean floor shall be established;
► states and their nationals shall conduct their deep ocean floor activities in accordance with international law;
► states shall encourage co-operative scientific activities including timely dissemination of information regarding the deep ocean floor;
► states shall have reasonable regard for the interests of other states, including adoption of safeguards to minimize pollution; and
► states shall assist one another in the event of accidents or emergencies resulting from deep ocean floor activities.
The principles as advanced by the United States did not meet with the unanimous approval of the Ad Hoc Committee. Understandably enough, different nations for different reasons could not agree to certain concepts contained therein. At the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee, alternative principles were proposed, consensus was reached on a greatly abbreviated set of principles (to the effect that there should be a boundary, an international regime beyond for the exploitation of resources which would take into account the needs of developing countries, and that the area beyond should be reserved for peaceful purposes); and the Committee was to report to the General Assembly that a valuable exchange of views, which could serve as the basis for further consideration of the subject, had taken place. From the point of view of the United States, the Ad Hoc Committee’s deliberations on the principles were productive; the issue had been placed before the international community and its complexities had been recognized.
The same complexities had been recognized earlier within the U. S. government. The principles as prepared for submission to the Ad Hoc Committee ideally had to express not only the U. S. view of a legal framework that would meet the world’s needs, but also—and understandably of primary importance—a framework that would best serve U. S. oceanic interests. Then—as now—while there was agreement among U. S. oceanic interests that there should be a boundary between that area of the seabed under national jurisdiction and any international regime beyond, there was not agreement of the location of the boundary. The government has recognized nationally, as it has suggested internationally, that thorough, methodical study of issues involved will be mandatory if a satisfactory national position is to be developed.
The U. S. petroleum industry, for example, is of the opinion that exclusive jurisdiction of coastal nations extends at least to the landward portions of the continental rises, embracing the continental shelf, continental borderlands, and continental slopes. While U. S. national security interests do not require any clearly defined dividing line between the seabed area under national jurisdiction and the area beyond, the U. S. Navy is concerned “that proposed seabed regimes might eventually result in claims and restrictions on the use of the superadjacent waters and, secondly, might lead to information and reporting requirements that would pose unnecessary problems for military operations.” In all, economic, foreign policy, national security, and scientific interests will have to be carefully weighed and accommodated in the U. S. oceanic policy-making process.
A distinct three-year phase of international oceanic affairs culminated in December 1968, with the adoption of three resolutions at the 23rd Session of the U. N. General Assembly. With the convening of this session the reports of the Secretary General made in accordance with the requests set forth in Resolution 2172 (XXI) and the report of the Ad Hoc Committee, requested by Resolution 2340 (XXII), were in the hands of the member nations, and debate on the issues in Committees I and II was spirited and long, with the following noteworthy results.
Resolution 2413 (XXIII), “Exploitation and Conservation of Living Marine Resources,” was broad in nature making reference to the Secretary General’s work pursuant to Resolution 2172; inviting member states to increase their international co-operation in the development and exploitation organizations concerned to improve their collaboration, fisheries development and conservation, and technical assistance; and requesting a progress report by the Secretary General at the General Assembly’s 25th Session.
Resolution 2414 (XXIII), “International Co-operation in Problems Related to the Oceans,” endorsed the concept of a co-ordinated, long-term program of oceanographic research and requested the Secretary General to present a comprehensive outline of the scope of this program to the 47th Session of ECOSOC, taking into account such scientific recommendations as might be formulated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
To deal with the issues raised by the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Seabed and by the subsequent debate in the Political Committee, the General Assembly adopted the four-part Resolution 2467-D (XXIII) (with the expectedly cumbersome title), “Examination of the question of the reservation exclusively for peaceful purposes of the seabed and the ocean floor, and the sub-soil thereof, underlying the high seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction, and the use of their resources in the interests of mankind.” In Part A, the General Assembly, taking note of the Ad Hoc Committee’s report and of the world’s interest in the subject, established a Committee on the Peaceful Uses of the Seabed and the Ocean Floor beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction, composed of 42 members. (The membership thus increased by seven over that of the Ad Hoc Committee, but it should be noted that at one point during the debate preceding adoption of the resolution it had been proposed that the Committee be a U. N. Committee of the whole.) The Committee was instructed to give further study to its area of interest—the principles, promotion of exploitation, international co-operation, and peaceful uses of the seabed; to work with other international organizations active in the field; and to report on its work at subsequent sessions of the General Assembly. Specifically, with regard to seabed arms, the Committee was called upon “to study further, within the context of the title of the item, and taking into account the studies and international negotiations being undertaken in the field of disarmament, the reservations exclusively for peaceful purposes of the seabed and the ocean floor without prejudice to the limits which may be agreed upon in this respect.”
In Part B, the General Assembly requested the Secretary General, in co-operation with appropriate organizations, to undertake a study on marine pollution control, to be submitted to the General Assembly and the Seabed Committee. In Part C, the General Assembly requested the Secretary General to undertake a study “on the question of establishing in due time appropriate international machinery for the exploration and exploitation of the resources of this area, and the use of these resources in the interests of mankind, . . . ”
Resolution 2467 Part D welcomed the concept of an International Decade of Ocean Exploration, to be undertaken within the context of a long-term research and exploration program under the aegis of the United Nations; it invited member states to formulate program proposals for the IDOE; and it urged them to publish the results of IDOE activities. Further, it requested the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission to intensify its activities in the scientific field, in particular with regard to co-ordinating the scientific aspects of the International Decade of Exploration. The latter was of significance in that the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission was the logical body to be given this major assignment: First, co-operative oceanography research is the Commission’s raison d’être; second, the Commission had already given thought to the many issues of substance relating to an expanded program; and, third, in June 1968, the Commission had informed the United Nations that it was prepared to play a leading role in any such program. Responding to this resolution in 1969, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission prepared the “Comprehensive Outline of the Scope of the Long-Term and Expanded Program of Oceanic Exploration and Research,” of which the International Decade will be an important element, and transmitted it to the 24th Session of the U. N. General Assembly—thus launching the detailed planning stage of this most promising co-operative endeavor.
The oceanic resolutions adopted by the United Nations’ 23rd Session mirror the development of oceanic affairs since the mid-1960s. In this period, the international community placed the oceans, the seabeds, and their resources on its agenda of priority issues. Debate on oceanic issues began, exploratory studies were undertaken, and in the main, the decision was reached that man was just beginning in his efforts to make full use of the seas, that more knowledge would be required before any treaties governing such important aspects of the marine environment could be considered.
Major developments in international ocean affairs have continued during 1969; progress toward implementation of the Decade has already been mentioned; perhaps of greatest importance have been those developments relating to the seabed arms issue. During this period, international consideration shifted from the U. N. Seabed Committee to the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (which was to grow to 25 nations and change its name to the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD) during the year. The U. S. Delegation arrived at these talks with instructions from President Nixon to explore the many factors bearing on “an international agreement that would prohibit the emplacement or fixing of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction on the seabed.” By October, the United States and Soviet Union had agreed on a draft treaty prohibiting the emplacement of such weapons on or under the sea floor beyond the 12-mile limit. And, at the time of this writing, the draft treaty was under consideration by the CCD and the 24th Session of the U. N. General Assembly.[†]
What do these events suggest: That the American ship of state is perilously threatened by international seabeds arms control activity? I think not. At present and for the foreseeable future, international ocean affairs must treat a most complex set of interrelated political, economic, and military issues. International involvement in the marine environment has grown to a point where the world ocean is no longer able to accommodate all users, whoever they are, whatever their uses, without regard one for the other.
As stated above, recent international interest in the seabeds has been oriented primarily toward exploitation of non-living marine resources. Is it not desirable that such exploitation come to pass peacefully and cooperatively; and does it not follow that one useful step toward such exploitation would be the shielding of the specific area in question from the deployment of nuclear arms? In working toward a seabed arms treaty, the United States has been and is negotiating specific issues—destruction of the U. S. Navy is not one of them. At the same time, the United States is endeavoring with other concerned nations to preclude nuclear arms competition in the sea floor and thereby permit the increasingly favorable climate for strategic arms limitation to continue to develop.
Current military seabed issues cannot be treated exclusively. They are inextricably tied not only to broader arms control issues, but also to the world community’s declared intention to make greater, more rational use of the world ocean.
A graduate of Stanford University in 1958, Mr. Clift was commissioned in the U. S. Navy via O.C.S. and, during his four years as a naval officer, served successively with the Fleet Intelligence Center, Pacific; Naval Support Force, Antarctica; and the Office of Naval Intelligence. From 1963-1966, Mr. Clift was Editor of the U. S. Naval Institute PROCEEDINGS. After receiving his M.Sc. degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London in 1968, he joined the staff of the interagency Committee on Marine Research, Education and Facilities in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. He is presently a member of the staff of the National Council on Marine Resources and Engineering Development, Executive Office of the President.
Let the Trumpets Sound
Admiral Ernest J. King was known through the Navy as a stern and strict disciplinarian. One Sunday morning in 1941 soon after he became Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, he returned to his flagship, the USS Texas, after a conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The ship’s chaplain was conducting divine services on the quarterdeck and was in the middle of his sermon. When he realized that Admiral King was coming up the starboard gangway, he halted his sermon and said:
“The Congregation will now rise and sing ‘Come, Thou Almighty King.’ ”
—Contributed by Vice Admiral Harry Sanders, U. S. Navy (Ret.)
(The U. S. Naval Institute will pay $10.00 for each anecdote published in the PROCEEDINGS.)
[*] Those employed or skilled in the art and practice of international affairs relating to the world ocean, its sea bed and its resources.
[†] On 16 December 1969, the U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 2602F (XXIV) “Resolution Referring Seabed Arms Control Draft Treaty to the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament” which called upon the CCD to “. . . take into account all proposals and suggestions that have been made at this session of the General Assembly and to continue its work on this subject so that the text of a draft treaty can be submitted to the General Assembly for its consideration.”